HOPEWELL TOWNSHIP: Officials want OK for sewers for no-kill shelter

By John Tredrea, Special Writer
   Hopewell Township’s government is seeking permission from the state to extend public sewers to a 170-acre tract near the junction of Scotch and Washington Crossing roads as part of an effort to build a no-kill animal shelter on the tract.
   The tract, now owned by Merrill Lynch, is to be turned over to the township under a 2008 zoning settlement agreement, Mayor Vanessa Sandom said.
   The township also is seeking a state OK to sewer 34 acres, already owned by the township, that adjoins the 170 acre tract. Affordable housing could be built on the 34 acres, Mayor Sandom said.
   She said if the animal shelter is built, there will be no cost to taxpayers.
   ”The shelter would be built and run by a nonprofit or a consortium of nonprofits,” she said.
   A standing farmhouse on the 170 acres may or may not be used for the shelter or part of it, she said, adding that having sewer service available would give the township “maximum flexibility” in dealing with what could be built on the two properties.
   She said the county already has OK’d bringing in the sewer service. State approval is needed as well. To that end, she and other township officials met with the state Department of Environmental Protection Monday afternoon. It’s the DEP that would hand down the state approval.
   The meeting with the DEP went well, she said Monday night.
   ”The DEP provided us with a good plan for including the properties in the Wastewater Management Plan, and we will be working on doing so in the very near future,” she said.
   Including the properties in the county’s WMP would mean the properties could be sewered. Amending the WMP to include the properties must be approved by the DEP.
   Several nearby towns, including Ewing and Lawrence, have voiced interest in possibly bringing their stray animals to the proposed new shelter. Ms. Sandom said such shelters generally use quite a bit of water so having public sewer service available for the proposed shelter makes sense, she said.